Eye On Springfield with Natalie Kahan of Wildspeaker

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Wildspeaker have very quickly become one of my favorite bands. Their take on hardcore, with a healthy bit of black and doom metal and crust thrown in for good measure, has found a place in my weekly listening rotations since discovering them. The blistering heaviness of Survey The Wreckage has become a stand out and easily one of my top ten favorite hardcore albums of all time. This isn’t hyperbole. I connect with Wildspeaker and what they stand for on a deep, emotional level. And one of the biggest reasons for that connection is because of their vocalist, Natalie Kahan. Her vocals are ferocious and captivating. But her lyrics are what really struck me. Focusing on the idea of nature over humanity and the atrocities humans have committed against mother nature, her words mean a lot to me.

Natalie is also a huge Simpsons fan. I’m very pleased that she took the time to answer these questions and can’t thank her enough for what her lyrics have done for me.

 

What is your history with The Simpsons? Do you remember the first time you saw the show?
My first memories of watching The Simpsons begin around age five. When my older sister, brother, and I ate dinner with our parents we would insist my dad roll the TV near the table so that we never missed an episode. I remember at first my parents were iffy about us watching it, but, needless to say, their resistance was futile.
Who is your favorite character?
This is a sadistic question when you ask me to narrow it down to just one. I don’t have a singular favorite, but I do consider one to be a personal best and overall funniest.
I have had an especially soft spot in my heart for Mr. Burns since I saw the “Rosebud” episode with his teddy bear Bobo. I also love “The Old Man and the Lisa” where he is rendered useless when he goes grocery shopping with the “Ketchup? Catsup?” incident. After the Little Lisa Recycling Plant is introduced we see that Burns isn’t all badly intentioned; he just can’t help his evil tendencies getting the better of him. It’s so mischievous and cute to me.
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I admire Ned Flanders and Monty Burns in similar ways. I think they’re some of the most interesting characters when you acknowledge their childish tendencies. Flanders is relentlessly positive, but I love to see when his hilarious temper flares out. Flanders is a lovable punching bag, forgiving, patient, and resilient on his good days. But in his rough moments he is judgmental, furious, anxious, annoying, and stubborn. I’ve probably never laughed harder than at the moment he meets his Canadian Doppelgänger in “Midnight RX.” Here is a link to a 10 minute loop of their nonsense conversation for your pleasure:
 I also love Milhouse so much I named my kitten Millie after him.
Do you have a favorite episode(s)?
The Treehouse of Horror series tops them all. I have probably re-watched and quoted Treehouse of Horror V more than any other episode. Treehouse of Horror VI has got to be my second favorite. In “Homer³,” where Homer and Bart travel into a 3D dimension is the most memorable segment of all time for me.
The Simpsons has a wide array of guest stars. Do you have a favorite?
While regularly watching, the ones I was most stoked for were Blink 182 and N*sync. Kelsey Grammar takes the cake with Sideshow Bob though. Paul McCartney’s appearance was tremendously important to me because it normalized and shed a positive light to the public about vegetarianism.
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One of my first exposures to vegetarianism and feminist ideas was through Lisa Simpson. Has the show ever introduced you or influenced some of your ideals?
I can relate every single aspect of life to the Simpsons. Its attitudes and humor definitely had hands in shaping my outlook. Laughing through difficult times is probably the most important life lesson anyone could ever learn.
Who from the world of metal would you love to see guest on the show?
Metalhead comedian Brian Posehn would be a good guest if he hasn’t already been on the show.
What character would you be most excited to find out was a fan of your work?
Really any of them would be awesome. I think Comic Book Guy would be most likely to come across our music on a Magic the Gathering forum somewhere.
Do you have a favorite musical number from The Simpsons? Also, what band would you love to see cover said song?
I’d be stunned if I got to hear Blackbird Raum or Pale Robin cover Lisa’s union strike song from “Last Exit to Springfield.” Lisa’s voice gives me goosebumps in that one every time I hear it. “We Put the Spring in Springfield” from “Bart After Dark” is so good it even won an Emmy. I’d enjoy hearing Haley Reinhart and Postmodern Juke Box put their spin on it. She and the band do insane covers of pop songs in big band arrangements.
I’ve always thought Lisa Simpson would be the one character to end up getting into punk or metal. Who do you think will grow up and discover metal or punk?
I could see Lisa getting into Food Not Bombs volunteering for sure. I imagine she’d get down on Plan-it- X Folk Punk like This Bike is a Pipe Bomb and all the classic Riot Grrrl bands. If I could meet her, the perfect CD to burn for her would be Xrayspex’s “Germ Free Adolescents” because it’s feminist punk and most importantly features a saxo-mo-phone.
I think Bart would dig West Coast 80’s hardcore like The Adolescents or party music like Agent Orange. It was funny seeing him as Johnny Rotten and Nelson Muntz as Sid Vicious in “Love, Springfieldian Style.” (Also I am a huge Buzzcocks fan so I loved that they were included in the soundtrack there.) Comic Book Guy would definitely dig Powerglove.
Do you still watch new episodes of the show? If not, do you remember what made you stop
watching?
 I never really stopped watching, but I definitely slowed down because jokes started to feel more forced or were lost on me. I will watch whatever comes onto Hulu but I won’t typically go out of my way to seek it anymore. I did enjoy a few newer ones like the Lego episode “Brick Like Me” and I was pleasantly surprised with how the “The Simpsons Guy” Family Guy crossover turned out. I thought it would be a mess but I’ve re-watched it several times.
How would you like to see the series end? Any ideas on where you would like to see the family end up?
The saddest part about this question is admitting that I want to see it end. It’s had a massively successful run but unfortunately at this point it’s run out of gas. I have read rumors that it might end on a Christmas episode so that it brings the show full circle. This end would be bittersweet but I’d be pleased by it.
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Prince

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Where does one even start when discussing someone like Prince? His body of work, and life in general, was so massive and expansive that it’s a bit overwhelming even thinking about trying to write about it. In fact, this is probably the seventh time since his death that I’ve tried to sit down and write something, anything, about Prince. His art means a lot to me and his body of work is staggering. 39 (!!!) full length studio albums, 136 music videos, 104 singles. That’s insane to even fathom. To put that in perspective, Bob Dylan had over 2 decades of recording before Prince released his first album and Dylan only has 37 studio albums. Needless to say, the man was prolific. It’s also rumored that he has enough unreleased material to be able to release a new full length album every year for the next century. But that’s all just statistics that you can find anywhere. I wanted to write something personal over losing someone whose music has become incredibly important to me.

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I’m basically a new comer to the world of Prince. I haven’t been listening to him my whole life. Yes, I remember watching his music videos on MTV as a kid and he’s always kind of been in the ether of my life, but I wasn’t actively listening to him. Like everyone else, I was familiar with his major hits like When Doves Cry, Kiss, 1999, etc, but my introduction deeper into the music of Prince came from three things: Jonah Matranga covering The Cross, Ween covering Shockadelica, and Kevin Smith discussing him at length, especially the 1989 Batman soundtrack. The covers by both Jonah and Ween became absolute standouts in my world. The Ween one being goofy and basically making the second half of it their own, and the Jonah cover being unbelievable heartwarming and personal. I would listen to both of them all the time. On top of that, the more and more I listened to Kevin Smith’s podcast and the more I heard him talk about Prince, I knew I had to dive in.
Now, the obvious move would have been to start out with something like his greatest hits or Purple Rain. But the first full Prince album I sunk my teeth into was the aforementioned Batman soundtrack. I was hooked immediately. It’s weird and counter intuitive to the dark and gritty take that the Dark Knight’s first foray into serious film was going for, but it works so well. Songs like Partyman, Batdance, Lemon Crush, and Scandalous are poppy, sexy, grandiose and everything else Prince was known for. And most of all, the album was fun.
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After becoming obsessed with Batman, I started to immediately devour his ‘classic’ albums. Prince, 1999, Around The World In A Day, Purple Rain, Sign O’ The Times, Emancipation. I fell in love with all of them. I’ve spent the last 5 years basically living off of Prince’s music. There hasn’t been a full week that I haven’t at least listened to The Hits/B-sides compilation. I listen to I Wanna Be Your Lover and Little Red Corvette every single morning when I leave work. Prince has become a part of my DNA and one of the things that I’ve bonded with people over. I could talk endlessly about his guitar playing at the end of Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad or how I Would Die 4 U is an absolutely perfect song. Or how I get chills at the scream he uses on If I Was Your Girlfriend (“Sometimes I trip out on how happy we could be, PLLLEEEEEAAAASSSSSEEEEE”). Or how much his cover of I Can’t Make You Love Me effects me on a deep, emotional level.
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On the day Prince died, I woke up to text messages, tweets, and direct messages from people offering me condolences like I had lost a member of my immediate family. It was weird and wonderful and actually incredibly comforting. I had never met the man, or even seen him perform live for that matter, but his impact on my life had been so big that people knew I was going to be devastated. And I was. I was in complete shock, as most of the world was. No one really saw it coming. Everyone on my Twitter timeline was sharing stories and their favorite songs that whole week. It was wonderful and therapeutic and beautiful to see how many lives Prince had touched with his music. It was especially great to see the usually serious and stoic metal community come out and talk about how much Prince inspired them or how much they loved his work. Hearing stories of practically every band playing shows that week opening with Purple Rain (shout out to Mutoid Man for the best version I heard) or seeing a band like Noisem paying respect was great. But the thing that finally sent me over the edge and made me tear up and cry was seeing the video of the massive crowd of people celebrating his life and work in Minnesota. It looked liked blocks had been taken over, with every light being turned purple, and everyone singing along to Purple Rain. It hit me hard just how much he resonated with people. His songs were the soundtracks to millions of peoples lives. I can’t even imagine how many awkward sexual awakenings happened to his music videos. Or how many dance parties 1999 or Let’s Go Crazy have been played at. The sheer magnitude of the lives he had made better through music is awe inspiring.
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If anything comes from his death, I hope that a new generation of people discover his music and check it out. In my opinion, he has at least 4 perfect albums (Purple Rain, 1999, Controversy, and Prince) that should be heard. I envy the people that get to experience his work for the first time now. It’s a journey into musical genius that is unrivaled. Prince was on a whole other level. He wasn’t weird, he was unabashedly himself and turned that into an exceptional musical career. He was constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries of popular music. There will never be anyone else like him and the world is a lot less magical without him in it.
 This is a video for Prince’s cover of Bonnie Raitt’s song I Can’t Make You Love Me. It has been on constant rotation for me since Prince left us. It’s one of the most beautiful renditions of an already beautiful song that I’ve ever heard and it makes me equally happy and sad while listening to it.

Otto’s Band Of The Week

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It’s very, very rare that I will check out a band based on a “For fans of” recommendation, but if one of those bands is The Cure, I will almost always at least give it a listen. Luckily, Dead Register was promoted to me as “Neurosis meets The Cure.” While that’s a bit of an over exaggeration, I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard.

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Dead Register, from Atlanta, Georgia, are a post punk, goth, doomy three piece that could easily appeal to anyone into Joy Division, Hum, or Jesu. As opposed to The Cure reference, I’d describe them as what A Perfect Circle covering Wavering Radiant era Isis might sound like. They’ve perfected a sound that is heavy, sad, melodic, and often incredible moving.
The trio are set to release their first full length, Fiber, on May 6th. The six songs on Fiber are wonderful and features some of the best gloomy post punk songs this side of the 1980’s. The vocals are full-on Ian Curtis worship and work really well with the often heavy guitar and bass work. Lyrically, Fiber is described by the band as “Centered around the dynamics of human relationships, particularly those of love and loss.”
Fiber is up for pre-order on Bandcamp right HERE. It’s completely enthralling and fantastic, full of somber melodies and gorgeous drum work. Fiber is highly recommended if you like rad music.
Fiber is out May 6th through AVR Records .

Album Review: A Bird In The Fault by Asunojokei

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For the first thirty seconds of opening song ‘Pomegranate’, you’d be hard pressed to differentiate Asunojokei from any other band given the genre tag of post black metal. It’s a pretty straight forward intro in the vein of bands like Hope Drone or Archivist that very quickly break into a circle pit inducing post-hardcore meets black metal assault. Then, in another twist, ‘Pomegranate’ morphs into a full fledged Deafheaven-esque piece of atmospheric black metal beauty. It makes for a completely compelling and interesting opening track and sets a good pace for what is to come on the rest of Asunojokei’s first full length, A Bird In The Fault.

It’s a bit of a cop out to say Asunojokei sound like early Envy playing black metal, but it’s probably the simplest description. And like their fellow countrymen, Asunojokei doesn’t rest on one genre to forge their sound. At different points, you hear the previous mentioned post hardcore and atmospheric black metal, a bit of depressive suicidal black metal and doominess (‘Easy’), and bits and pieces of Sigur Ros via piano beauty (‘A Bird In The Fault’). It should be noted that while all of this might sound overbearing, Asunojokei meld it all perfectly into their sound. Everything is deeply rooted in black metal, but these outside influences help Asunojokei stand out in a field of bands that sound relatively the same.
As someone who can’t read Japanese, finding information on Asunojokei is a little difficult. I have no idea what their lyrics are and as most of their info is in Japanese, I’m pretty much out of luck on knowing a whole lot about the band. Luckily, their music is strong enough to stand on it’s own. The five songs on A Bird In The Fault are incredibly heavy and beautiful, both aspects coinciding without relenting to one or the other. They have blast beats working in unison with really wonderful and melodic guitar work. No song demonstrates this more than ‘The Drowned Body’. It’s a spectacular song that should make all the Deafheaven style bands of the world jealous. It’s a song I’ve been waiting years for someone to write. It’s the sound of The Head On The Door era Cure playing black metal and is a massive highlight of not only the album, but black metal in general.
‘Easy’, the albums centerpiece, counteracts all of the prettiness by being an utterly unnerving and slower paced song. It’s just shy of 7 minutes of gloom and sorrow punctuated by vocals that sound like cries of pain that eventually relent to Asunojokei’s normal black metal assault. It’s a wonderful track, but sort of sticks out amidst the rest of the beauty and atmosphere of the rest of the album.
I’ve been listening to black metal for a long time, going on at least 18 years now, and I can say that I’ve never really heard an album that encapsulates everything I love in music right now more than A Bird In The Fault. I’d actually go out on a limb and state that A Bird In The Fault might be the best black metal album I’ve heard in the last 5 years. That’s not hyperbole or overreacting. It’s going to be a very, very tough task for any band to top this album for me this year. Asunojokei managed to create a sound that a lot of bands strive for but haven’t quite hit yet. And while only being just under 25 minutes long, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. Do not sleep on A Bird In The Fault or Asunojokei. They’re doing truly exceptional things.
Pick up A Bird In The Fault from Bandcamp HERE and follow Asunojokei on Twitter HERE!

Eye On Springfield with Jared Stimpfl from Secret Cutter

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Secret Cutter are a band that came out of nowhere for me. I randomly added them to my wishlist on Bandcamp and was very quickly gifted their album through the #MetalBandcampGiftClub. Their doomy grind/hardcore immediately caught my attention and proceeded to bludgeon me over the head repeatedly. I was immediately hooked and have listened to Self-Titled at least once a day since. The three piece create an incredibly heavy sound through just drums/guitar/vocals. There is no bass and you don’t miss it. In fact, I didn’t even notice until I started looking into Secret Cutter’s background that they didn’t have a bass player.

Drummer Jared Stimpfl was kind enough to nerd out on The Simpsons for me and I can’t thank him enough.

 

What is your history with The Simpsons? Do you remember the first time you saw the show?

I can’t even remember the first time I watched the Simpsons…But I was always excited for prime time TV Sunday nights for a new episode when I was a kid.

Who is your favorite character?

I love Troy McClure because he is always a part of something ridiculous. And Ned Flanders because he was super wholesome and you kinda hated him for it…until he ‘kills’ his wife!

Do you have a favorite episode(s)?

I love the Japan episode where the family travels there but has to go on a game show to win tickets back home…there was a moment when Homer loses his ticket and yells out in Japanese in a really long and angry way…and the caption of course was “D’oh!” So many good lines in that episode….FISH BULB.

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The Simpsons has had a wide array of guest stars. Do you have a favorite?

Not really sure!

Who from the world of metal would you love to see guest on the show?

Well he was already on so…JONATHAN DAVIS OF KORN!

What character would you be most excited to find out was a fan of Secret Cutter?

Otto Mann because he’s always rockin something right? He should be driving the bus full of children to “Self Titled” for sure.

Do you have a favorite musical number from the show? Also, what band would you love to see cover said song?

When Bart switches out the church Hym for “In A Gadda Da Vida” by Iron Butterfly was always my favorite. And I would only want to see them do it. OR Bongzilla.

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I’ve always thought that Lisa Simpson would be the one character to eventually discover metal or punk. What character do you think will be a metal head?

Millhouse for sure. He reminded me of me as a kid…just awkward. Then I found metal. And i’m still Awkward.
Do you still watch the new episodes of the show? If not, do you remember why you stopped watching?

I don’t unfortunately…I remember when family guy rebooted I started watching that more and then eventually ditched cable.

Finally, how would you like to see the series end? Any ideas on where you would like to see the family end up?

That’s a tough one…Possibly Homer obliterating Springfield from job negligence and everyone dies a slow painful toxic death while ‘Aftermath” from Origin paints the landscapes behind their screams. That would be pretty cool.

 

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Follow Secret Cutter at:
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Secret Cutter Facebook
Secret Cutter Twitter

Album Review: Demo MMXVI by Necrolytic Goat Converter

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Trying to review a demo is like judging a TV show on its first season. Take The Simpsons for example: the first season is rough. It’s full of animation glitches and defects. The jokes are there, but not as perfectly crafted as they would become during season 2 and beyond. This metaphor can be used when looking at a bands demo as well. It’s to be expected that a demo will have a less than stellar recording, but like any good TV show, the moments of genius will shine through.

Demo MMXVI is the first recording from Necrolytic Goat Converter, a one man project from Chris Voss. Using NGC as a way to express his thoughts about depression and isolation, Chris has made an excellent demo for those into 80’s/90’s death metal. The songs all have a mid-paced feel (or what I take as mid-paced in a world of tech-death overload) that wouldn’t feel out of place being played along side Covenant/Domination era Morbid Angel. And while the demo feels like it could be a long lost relic of the last century, the songs have enough modern metal aspect to keep them interesting and memorable. ‘Second Skin’ has a nice melodic middle section that will burrow it’s way into your skull and never leave. It also features a great solo towards the 4 minute mark.
The instrumentation throughout the demo is remarkable. While not being overly showy, the musicianship and competence Chris shows for each instrument is exceptional. The bass and drums (I’m still not 100% sure on whether or not the drums are a drum machine or real) play off of each other well while propping up Chris’s real strength: the guitar playing. Voss knows his way around some riffs. They’re catchy without losing speed or heaviness. I could see a song like ‘Throne Of Cold’ being an early At The Gates song, even down to his almost Tomas Lindberg style vocals.
Lyrically, Voss paints vivid pictures of sadness. “Upon your head there lies a broken crown/You are the King of all you are/There is no hope for absolution/Your soul is ground into the dust/In sunless skies I watch the universe collapse/Beneath the branches of my grave”, from ‘Absolution’, is an exceptional lyric that hits me hard.. It’s sung, as opposed to screamed, and fits well in the overall scheme of what ends up being my favorite song. It’s a doomy death metal jam that is reminiscent of parts of Turn Loose The Swans era My Dying Bride and completely nails the sound and feeling of isolation. The follow up song, ‘The Futility Of Self Revision’, is a great companion piece to ‘Absolution’, as well.
Demo MMXVI isn’t perfect. The sound quality, like most demos, leaves much to be desired. Some stuff muddles together a bit, but nothing that takes away from the enjoyment. And like most first recordings, Voss wears his influenced on his sleeve. But all in all, Demo MMXVI is a stellar beginning to what I hope is a long string of albums from Chris Voss, be it under the Necrolytic Goat Converter name (which I understand is basically a joke name created from a conversation on Facebook) or something else down the line. Voss shows an excellent command of his instruments and I look forward to hearing what he has coming up next.
Album Highlights: Absolution, The Futility Of Self Revision, Throne Of Cold, Withdrawn
You can pick up a digital copy of Demo MMXVI on Bandcamp HERE! It’s up for Pay What You Want, but support Chris so he can make more music!

#MetalBandcampGiftClub Spotlight

This week’s, I’m focusing on the first two albums I was gifted through the #MetalBandcampGiftClub. Both of these have become absolute favorites of mine. Their heavy and as different as you can get.

Dragged Into Sunlight & Gnaw Their Tongues – N.V.

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N.V. is a dark, heavy, and brutal album. The collaboration between Dragged Into Sunlight’s grim and harsh sound with Gnaw Their Tongue’s uncomfortable noise is a must have for anyone into either band. Featuring unnerving samples from serial killers amongst the chaotic and vicious sounds, N.V. is an incredible listening experience. Check it out HERE!

N.V. was gifted to me by Ross McKendrick

 

 

Panopticon – Autumn Eternal

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Panopticon is hands down the best project/band in black metal. Austin Lunn is brilliant and bold and creates some of the mot unique albums I’ve ever heard. Following the groundbreaking Kentucky and Roads To The North, Autumn Eternal follows in the footprints of both of those albums. Lunn’s take on Appalachian bluegrass and black metal is infectious and breathtaking. This is an album you don’t want to miss out on. Check it out HERE!

Autumn Eternal was gifted to me by Head Ov Metal.

To find out about the #MetalBandcampGiftClub and join in on the fun, visit metalbandcampgiftclub.com for all the info you need!